When it comes to having your comics graded and “slabbed” by an impartial and independent third party, there are three main companies available to choose from – CGC, CBCS & PGX.
CGC was the very first company to grade and slab comic books beginning in 2000. PGX entered the market shortly thereafter beginning in 2002. Most recently, CBCS joined the fray giving comic collectors a third option beginning in 2014.
Each company has supporters as well as detractos. Just do some searches on Google for best comic grading service and you’ll find no shortage of blog posts and articles with various opinions.
Based on my personal experience and the collective opinion of the comic collecting community, CGC is the most trusted graded authority. I have yet to personally use CBCS, but folks have plenty of positive things to say about them too. What about PGX? Well, it’s PGX…
Even though PGX has been around since 2002, their reputation has taken a bit of a beating especially with all the rumor and innuendo that for a time they were overgrading comics. It was because of these rumors that made me wonder what would happen if I cracked open a PGX slab, removed the comic and submitted it to CGC for grading. Would the comic come back the same grade? Or would the rumors of overgrading be proven to be true and CGC would grade the book lower?
Well, I figured there was only one way to find out, so recently I purchased a PGX 9.8 graded copy of Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1, cracked that bad boy open and sent it off to CGC.
The comic recently came back from CGC, and I put together this video that reveals how the book was graded.
CRACKING SLABS AND TAKING GRADES
If you’re the type of person who would rather read about the experience than watch a video, I’ll detail the process and results below.
When I decided that it might be a fun experiment to crack this PGX slab and resubmit the comic to CGC, I asked my Instagram followers what they thought I should do.
It was a pretty even vote between keep it as is, and crack it. In the end, the “keep it as is” crowd won the vote, but because there were enough people interested in seeing how CGC would grade the book, I went ahead and decided to crack it open anyway.
I have to admit I was a little nervous when I was cracking this PGX slab in order to extract the comic and get it shipped off to CGC. The last thing I wanted to do was accidentally damage the comic in the cracking process, thus ruining the experiment and wasting some money.
In the end, I successfully cracked the slab, carefully removed the comic and prepped it to be shipped off to CGC for grading.
Less than a month after submitting the comic to CGC, it came back to me and I was ready to discover how CGC graded this comic that PGX had graded a 9.8…
According to CGC, this comic was in 9.6 Near Mint+ condition, not 9.8 condition as graded by PGX.
When I saw the lower grade from CGC, I can’t say that I was surprised. I think disappointed would be a more accurate description of how I felt. But when I reflected upon those feelings, I think the disappointment had more to do with the market value difference between a 9.8 and 9.6 graded copy of Deadpool #1.
But I reminded myself that the point of this experiment wasn’t to see if there was money to be made by buying inexpensive PGX comics and having them regraded by CGC. It was to see if the rumors of overgrading by PGX could be somewhat substantiated.
DOES PGX OVERGRADE COMICS?
As any good scientist will tell you, one experiment does not prove a hypothesis. It takes repeated tests with consistent results to prove a theory. Remember, this was just a single PGX comic that was regraded by CGC, so by no means am I suggesting 100% without a doubt that PGX overgrades comics.
On the flipside, is it possible that maybe, just maybe, CGC undergraded this comic? The suggestion that CGC is a much tougher grader than the other companies is another one of those speculative statements that you’ll see tossed around in online comic book communities from time to time. Especially when a collector sends off their prized possession for grading, and it comes back graded much lower than anticipated.
However, I was able to rule that out based on the CGC graders notes and visual evidence that the top right corner of the comic showed signs of slight wear and color break. Based on that, I can’t disagree with CGC, this comic is a 9.6 all day long.
Also I think it’s important to give both companies the benefit of the doubt. Could they have both been right? Meaning is it possible that something happened to the comic during the time it wasn’t slabbed to cause the lower grade by CGC?
For example, it is possible that in my handling of the comic I managed to cause that damage to the book? I suppose it is, although I took all precautions to ensure that I didn’t even get a single fingerprint on the comic, let alone handle the book in a way that would cause any wear.
Something else to consider is perhaps that corner was dinged up during the shipping process as my comic made it’s way from my home in Michigan to CGC HQ in Florida. Again, anything is possible especially with how USPS can sometimes handle packages. But again, I took all precautions to pack this comic securely so that it had the best chance to survive the journey without concern.
All that being said, based on the facts that I have, I will say that in this one example I believe PGX did indeed overgrade this comic.
My goal is to continue to acquire high grade PGX slabs and resubmit them to CGC for grading. Hopefully after doing this 10-15 times, I’ll be able to confidently make a determination one way or the other with proof to back up my claims instead of rumor, speculation an innuendo.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
Like most things I do here at the Certified Comic Shop, I’m always happy to talk about the finances of operating a comic shop.
The PGX 9.8 graded copy of Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1 set me back $38 which was a great price when you consider that CGC 9.8 graded copies of the same comic have been selling anywhere between $90 – $110 of late.
The true cost of grading by CGC was $25. This includes the CGC’s grading and handling fee plus shipping to and from CGC.
So all together I had $63 dollars invested in this comic. As soon as I was done making my video (have you watched it yet? it’s still waaaaaay up there ⬆), I listed the comic for sale here on the shop and on my eBay store. After two days of being listed, it sold on eBay for $82.99 shipped. After eBay, PayPal and shipping fees, I actually lost $6 on the transaction. But that’s no big deal, for me that was a $6 well spent as I was able to perform a pretty cool experiment for what ended up being a pretty low cost.
So what do you think about CGC vs. PGX grading? Should I keep repeating this experiment, or have you already seen enough evidence to form your own opinion? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!